Project Writing a Word Press plugin to display author bios

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As we've discussed, plugins can help expand WordPress and give it new functionality. However, we've seen that adding jQuery scripts directly to the theme and editing its template pages here and there will do the trick in most cases. But let's imagine a more complicated scenario using our modified default theme and the hypothetical client mentioned in the previous project in this chapter.

While we tweaked the default theme, I figured that this client might want to have her site's focus be more journalism oriented, and thus, she'd want some attention drawn to the author of each post upfront. I was right, she does. However, there's a catch. She doesn't just want their WordPress nickname displayed; she'd prefer their full first and last name be displayed as well, as it's more professional. She'd also like their quick biography displayed with a link to their own URL and yet, not have that information "get in the way" of the article itself, or lost down at the bottom of the post. And here's the really fun part; she wants this change affected not just on this site, but across her network of genre-specific news sites, over 20 of them at last count (dang, I forgot she had so many sites! Good thing she's hypothetical).

For this specific WordPress site, it's easy enough to go in and comment out the custom function we dealt with earlier: add in the_author tag and display it twice, passing each tag some parameters to display the first and last name. I can also add a tag to display the author's biography snippet from the user panel and URL (if they've filled out that information). Also, it's certainly easy enough to add a little jQuery script to make that bio div show up on a rollover of the author's name. However, having to take all that work and then re-copy it into 20 different sites, many of which are not using the default theme, and most of which have not had jQuery included into their theme, does sound like an unnecessary amount of work (to boot, the client has mentioned that she's deciding on some new themes for some of the sites, but she doesn't know which sites will get what new themes yet).

It is an unnecessary amount of work. Instead of amending this theme and then poking through, pasting, testing, and tweaking in 20 other themes, we'll spend that time creating a WordPress plugin. It will then be easy to deploy it across all the client's sites, and it shouldn't matter what theme each site is using. Let's get started!

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